Western Australia


Western Australia

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Western Australia is Australia's largest state in area, covering the western third of the mainland, and is bordered by South Australia and the Northern Territory. It is, after the Sakha Republic in Russia, the second largest subnational entity in the world. Despite this the population is only 2,105,800 making up 10% of Australia's total population.

The people of Western Australia, West Australians or Western Australians, are often colloquially referred to as sandgropers because of the insect found on sand dunes around Perth.

Economy

Western Australia has the highest per capita output of any Australian state, with an economy that has been largely based on the extraction and export of mining and petroleum commodities, especially, iron, alumina, natural gas, nickel and gold. Western Australia is a leading alumina extractor, producing more than 20% of the world's alumina. It is also the world's third-largest iron ore producer, producing around 15% of the world's total iron ore output. Western Australia also extracts up to 75% of Australia's 240 tonnes of gold. Diamonds are extracted at Argyle diamond mine in the North West. Coal is mined at Collie and used for domestic power production.

Western Australia's economy recently has benefited from an unprecedented amount of foreign demand for resources, particularly from China. This has contributed to strong GSP growth. Perth has emerged as a significant administration centre for businesses in the mineral and oil and gas industries.

Agricultural exports are also important (amounting to approximately 3% of GSP), especially wheat, barley and sheep products such as wool and meat. Approximately 50% of Australia's live cattle exports come from WA. In recent years, tourism has grown in importance, with the majority of visitors coming from the United Kingdom and Ireland, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia.

Western Australia, with about 10% of Australia's population, has historically generated approximately 30% of Australia's export revenues, however the recent commodities boom has pushed this figure to now exceed 40%. The State now generates more export income than New South Wales and Victoria (Australia's two most populous states) combined. High incomes, strong corporate activity, lower unemployment, mineral revenue and a younger population mean that Western Australia provides a significant financial subsidy to all other states. The economic boom in Western Australia is so strong that a significant labour shortage has emerged. The state government has launched an appeal for more people to move to the growing state at www.gowestnow.com. Very high levels of job vacancies have emerged and unless skilled workers can be found, the state government fears that significant economic opportunities may be lost. The average full time income for a Western Australian in 2007 was A$61,662, compared to the national average of A$57,387, and was ranked 2nd nationwide behind the Australian Capital Territory.

This boom has also caused a massive rise in property values. Average residential property increased in value by over 40% in 2006, however values have remained rather flat in 2007. Perth property is now the second most valuable in Australia behind Sydney. Large projects continue to fuel the economy and population growth continues to push rental prices up.

Significant refining and manufacturing industries are located within the state and are continuing to grow strongly with the state's booming economy. These include Liquified natural gas production mainly for export to Asia, Petro chemicals and fertilizer Production in the North West Shelf region. In September 2007, Hu Jintao, the President of China visited Western Australia and committed to the purchase of AUD$45 Billion worth of gas over a lengthy period. This is the largest export contract Australia has ever had.

A major heavy industrial area is located south of Perth at Kwinana. Oil Refining is conducted here along with an ironplant owned by Rio Tinto. Alumina and Nickel are also produced in Kwinana. Shipbuilding is conducted at Austal yards in Henderson south of Fremantle. Several heavy and light engineering and metal fabrication factories are located in Perth catering for the demands of the mining industry. Other light industries include cement and building product manufacturing, flour milling, food processing, animal feed production, automotive body building, printing and boat building.

Several major along with smaller specialised breweries are located mainly in Perth including Swan Brewery at Canning Vale, Carlton United Brewing at Mosman Bay others include Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle and Gage Roads Brewery also Fremantle. Western Australia also has major wine producing regions in the South West located in the Margaret River region and Swan Valley. Several wineries produce wine for local consumption and international export.

Western Australia has a significant fishing industry that produces fish for local consumption and foreign export including Western Rock Lobsters, Prawns, Crabs, Shark and Tuna. Processing is conducted along the west coast. Whaling ceased at Albany in 1978.

Perth is a centre for banking and finance, and includes state head offices for all major banks, Commonwealth, National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ. It is also home to the Head Office of Woodside Petroleum and has major offices for Rio Tinto, BHP and Western Mining Corporation. Perth is Australia's main centre for mining and oil and gas administration. Several insurance companies have large offices in Perth including AXA, Aviva, AMP and SGIO.

Due to Perth being the only major capital city in Australia in which it is possible to contact Europe during normal business hours and is in the same time zone as Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, Beijing and Seoul, Perth does an enormous amount of trading between the close of North American and the opening of European Stock Exchanges, and with Asia.

Perth has the biggest retail sector in the state with retail outlets being found mainly in Hay, Murray and Wellington Streets. Several large shopping malls are located in the suburbs at Garden City, Karrinyup, Morley and Cannington. Department stores include Myer and David Jones. Fremantle is also a retail centre catering for local and tourist needs.

Retail trade is tightly regulated and there are strict restrictions on the hours that stores are allowed to open. Major stores are restricted to open between 8:00am and 6:00 p.m. weekdays except Thursdays in the suburbs where closing time is 9:00pm. On Saturdays stores are open from 8:00 am to 5:00pm. A referendum was held on 26 February 2005 on the issue of allowing weekday trading to 9pm and 6 hours of trade on Sundays; the referendum was defeated.

Exemptions to this are granted for designated tourist precincts of the Perth city centre, Fremantle and major regional centres: these are allowed to trade on Sundays from 12:00pm until 5:00pm. The Perth City area has Friday night trading until 9:00pm.

Education

Education in Western Australia consists of one year of pre-school at age 5, followed by seven years of primary school education, ie Years 1 through 7. Students move into Year 8 at age 13 and five years of secondary education. The final two years of secondary education are currently changing to compulsory. All students who completed Year 10 in 2005 are now required to undertake further studies in Year 11. Students are required to complete the year in which they turn 16 (usually Year 11).

Commencing in 2008 all students will be required to complete 12 years of study before leaving school. Students will have the option to study at a TAFE college in their eleventh year or continue through high school with a vocational course or a specific University entrance course.

The major universities in Western Australia are Curtin University of Technology, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia.

Media

Print

Western Australia has two daily newspapers: the independent tabloid The West Australian, Countryman and The Kalgoorlie Miner. Also published is one Sunday tabloid newspaper, News Corporation's The Sunday Times.There are also 17 weekly Community Newspapers with distribution from Yanchep in the North to Mandurah in the South.However, the interstate broadsheet publication The Australian is also available, although with sales per capita lagging far behind those in other states. With the advent of the Internet, other online publications from around the world are now easily accessible. Some, like the New South Wales based The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian which provide free access to their sites, are becoming increasingly popular.

Television

Metropolitan Perth has six broadcast television stations;

* ABC WA. Produces nightly local news at 7pm. (digital & analogue) (callsign: ABW - Channel 2 Analogue, Channel 12 Digital)
* SBS WA (digital & analogue) (callsign: SBS - Channel 28 Analogue, Channel 29 Digital)
* Seven Network Perth. Produces weeknightly local news from 6pm - 7pm. (digital & analogue) (callsign: TVW - Channel 7 Analogue, Channel 6 Digital)
* Nine Network Perth. Produces weeknightly local news from 6pm - 6.30pm. (digital & analogue) (callsign: STW - Channel 9 Analogue, Channel 8 Digital)
* Network Ten Perth. Airs weeknightly local news from 5pm - 6pm, however live from Sydney. (digital & analogue) (callsign: NEW - Channel 10 Analogue, Channel 11 Digital)
* Access 31. Community service channel. (analogue-only) (callsign: ATW - Channel 31 Analogue)

In addition, broadcasters operate digital multichannels:

* ABC2 (carried by ABW)
* SBS World News Channel (carried by SBS)
* Ten HD (carried by NEW)
* Seven HD (carried by TVW)
* Nine HD (carried by STW)

Regional WA has a similar availability of stations, with the exception of Access 31 in all areas but Bunbury and Albany. The metropolitans commercial stations are affiliated with:

* Golden West Network (GWN). Produces weeknightly local news from 5.30pm - 6pm, also airs Seven Perth news until 7pm) (analogue only) (callsign: SSW South West, VEW Goldfields/Esperance, GTW Central West, WAW Statewide)
* WIN Television WA. Produces weeknightly local news from 5:30pm - 6pm, however live from Perth. Also airs Nine Perth news from 6pm - 6:30pm. (analogue only) (callsign: WOW)

Pay TV services are provided by Foxtel, which acquired many of the assets and all the remaining subscribers of the insolvent Galaxy Television satellite service in 1998. Some metropolitan suburbs are serviced by Pay TV via cable; however, most of the metropolitan and rural areas can only access Pay TV via satellite.

Radio

Perth have many radio stations on both AM and FM frequencies. ABC stations include News Radio (585AM), Local Radio 6WF (720AM), Radio national (810AM), Classic FM (97.7FM) and Triple-J. The 6 commercial stations are: FM- 92.9, Nova 93.7, Mix 94.5, 96fm, and AM- 882 6PR, and 1080.

The leading community stations are RTR FM 92.1 and Sonshine FM 98.5. (Credit: Wikipedia).

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